GIS assists urban planners in recommending monorail network for Saudi Arabia’s second...

GIS assists urban planners in recommending monorail network for Saudi Arabia’s second largest city

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18 January 2007, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – With the increasing number of cars and the resultant traffic jams and public transportation problems, Jeddah needs a network of monorails, according to the recommendations of a study.

The study used Geographic Information System (GIS) in preparing maps and superposing them. The maps included those of topography, population density, district boundaries, percentage of public transport use, distribution of income in the city, marking the areas with a density of over 100 people per hectare, areas with over 50 per cent of public transport use and areas with medium to low income.

The study, conducted by the Faculty of Environmental Design of King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah said that the number of car users has risen to 82.3 per cent. The study was conducted by Kamel Sa’eed Kamel Faisal, a specialist in urban and regional planning and was supervised by Dr Waleed Abdul Aal of the same department. The main objective of the study was to find a mechanism for planning and operating a railway network in the city.

The monorail network will help urban development by linking areas on the outskirts of the city, especially the southern area, the study said. A monorail station in the extreme south will increase development of the area. Job opportunities will open up in the construction, operation, maintenance and management sectors.

The study showed that by decreasing the time for trips from one destination to another, per capita productivity would increase. It said that the huge number of automobiles, the rise in average time for each trip and pressure on the road network had led to traffic jams.

According to the study, downtown Balad lacks enough means of public transport. It drew attention to the difficulty in reaching the airport from the city centre because of the long distance and heavy traffic. The study found that the consumption of energy has led to an increase in air and noise pollution. The long time taken for the trip from the city centre to the airport led to a waste of energy.

Dr Abdul Qader Amir, Deputy Mayor of Jeddah for Urban Planning, said that if things materialise, the city would have a major transportation network of monorails and connecting buses within two years. “This will ease traffic congestions, reduce noise and air pollution, save commuting time and help in city’s expansion and development,” he added. The public transportation problem is not confined to Jeddah alone. Riyadh too is affected and as such the capital is to have a mass transit system.